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No one to care, elderly die lonely deaths

On June 29, police found a highly decomposed body of Angela Machado (74) from her posh Kalkaji house in southeast Delhi. The body was on the bed with the television still on. The senior citizen, who was not registered with the police, was suffering from chronic lung disease and had died following an attack, reports Vijaita Singh.

delhi Updated: Jul 07, 2009 23:47 IST
Vijaita Singh

On June 29, police found a highly decomposed body of Angela Machado (74) from her posh Kalkaji house in southeast Delhi. The body was on the bed with the television still on.

The senior citizen, who was not registered with the police, was suffering from chronic lung disease and had died following an attack.

And it was her neighbours who called the police after a foul smell had started coming from the senior citizen’s house.
Though Delhi Police have initiated a special drive to register senior citizens, in the past fortnight three elderly women have died lonely deaths in the city.

These women, who were living alone, could not seek help when they needed it the most. Two of them were not even registered with the police.

Police said in all the incidents even the next-door neighbours did not find anything amiss until the foul smell from decomposed bodies filled the air.

“She could not even cook food on her own. The neighbours gave her food. One of her sons lives in Faridabad but she preferred to stay alone,” said Pooja Kapoor, a neighbour of Machado.

“She never let anyone enter her house.”

“We received a call from neighbours that a foul smell was coming from the house. When we broke open the door, we found her highly decomposed body,” said a senior officer, who didn't give his name, as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Police said till June this year they had visited more than 31,000 senior citizens in the city and registered 8,397 with the cell.

“If we get a call for medical assistance from the elderly on our help lines, we send Police Control Room (PCR) vans immediately. The vans take them to the nearest hospital and they are immediately provided help,” said Mansoor Ali Sayyed, joint commissioner of police (senior citizen cell).

But lonely senior citizens continue to die even lonelier deaths.

On June 27, police recovered the body of 70-year-old Yashoda Krishnamurthy from her rented house in East of Kailash in southeast Delhi. Krishnamurthy was living alone and reportedly died due to a cardiac arrest, police said. She was not registered with the police.

And just a day before that on June 26, police had recovered the charred body of 72-year-old Savita Ghosh from her ground floor flat in Chittaranjan Park area.

Loneliness and old age had forced her to end her life. Police said after her husband died a year ago, she was under acute depression.

“We rope in the resident welfare associations to take care of senior citizens as they are a vulnerable lot. Our policemen go and visit them on a regular basis and ask them whether they need any other help or not,” said the officer.